Sweet 16 Game Preview: Florida vs. Florida Gulf Coast University

by Steve Etter
Miami Bureau Reporter

Brett Comer/naplesnews.com

It's a battle of the sunshine state held in Texas as the #15 seed Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles (FGCU) play the more well known #3 Florida Gators.

The #15 FGCU Eagles (26-10, 13-5 A-Sun), the definite Cinderella story of the tournament, beat the  #2 Georgetown Hoyas 78-68 in the second round of the tournament and defeated the #7 San Diego State Aztecs 81-71. With the victory over the Aztecs, the Eagles became the first #15 seed to make it to the Sweet 16 in NCAA tournament history.

To open the tournament, the #3 Florida Gators (28-7, 14-4 SEC) exorcised the #14 Northwestern State Demons 79-47 to advance to the next round. In the third round, the Gators played the #11 Golden Gophers from Minnesota. The Gators snacked on the Golden Gophers 78-64 to advance to the Sweet 16.

Coach Andy Enfield must have the FGCU Eagles ready to play their best game this season in order to beat the Gators. Senior guard Sherwood Brown (15.6 ppg) who had 17 points against the Aztecs must continue to play at a high level. Bernard Thompson (14.5 ppg), a sophomore guard who had 23 points against the Hoyas and the Aztecs must be prepared to match that level of play against the Gators. Sophomore point guard Brett Comer (8.1ppg) had double-doubles against both the Hoyas and the Aztecs. He totaled 12 points and 10 assists against the Hoyas and 10 points and 14 assists against the Aztecs. In order for the Eagles to win, Comer must play mistake free basketball and keep throwing perfect lobs to his big men.

The Gators have an edge in coaching experience with two time national championship winning coach, Billy Donovan. Florida has two seniors who can cause problems for the Eagles. Guard Mike Rosario (12.5 ppg) who had 25 points against the Gophers and forward/center Erik Murphy (12.8 ppg) who had 18 points against the Demons and 15 points against the Gophers need to continue to play at their current level. In addition, junior center Patric Young (10.3 ppg and 6.3 rpg) needs to chip in for the Gators to advance to the Elite Eight.

I hate to say it but I believe that the Cinderella story is over for the FGCU Eagles. I wish it wasn’t but I believe that the Gators will have the Eagles for a late night snack.